Like a firm handshake, good writing gives people a lasting impression. No matter what the intention, medium, or technology — how and what you write needs to be clear, easy to read, and effective.
In his book On Writing Well, William Zinsser says, “We are a society struggling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.” If what you’re trying to communicate is hiding in that kind of clutter, it’s likely your readers will not hear what you’re trying to say.
“Writing is hard work.” Zinsser explains. Good writing takes time and attention. Here are some suggestions for righting what you write:
Start with an Outline. Jot down the points you want to make. Collect and organize your thoughts before you write them.
Stick to the Point. Don’t waste words telling people what they already know or don’t need to know.
Avoid Jargon. Don’t use words that people outside your line of work won’t understand. Find another way to say it.
Use Familiar Combinations of Words. “Everything that coruscates with effulgence is not ipso facto aurous,” works a lot more effectively as “All that glitters is not gold.”
Use “First-degree” Words. Words that create an immediate image will get the point across quicker. For example, use object instead of manifestation, or face instead of visage.
Avoid “Windy Phrases.” Is there a shorter way to say something? Say it that way. “The secret of good writing,” says Zinsser, “is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”
Read it out loud. Better yet, ask someone else to read it back to you. Do you pay attention? Is your message clear? Do you understand yourself?
“Good writing doesn’t come naturally,” explains Zinsser. But good writing is essential if you want to communicate effectively with your audience.
(Need help? Visit our sister website Words by Jen for information on our copy writing and editing services.)
This is very helpful, Jen. Thanks!